These days, people use the Internet not only when they are at work, but when they are at home, too. And while most companies do their best to keep the Wi-Fi signal strong within their premises, most home owners simply buy a router – often times, a cheap one! – place it in their living rooms, and then think that they’ve solved the problem for good.
The problem may be partially solved, but the reality is that most home owners lose a lot of their Internet connection speed in comparison with the one that would be available through a wired connection.
The Wi-Fi technology uses radio waves, which spread through the house, going through walls and different materials, objects etc. If the signal is strong enough, it will penetrate the walls; otherwise, your Internet connection speed (and sometimes even access!) will suffer.
Almost any obstacle will interfere with the quality of the Wi-Fi signal, but there are some materials that can literally block it: concrete, metal and stone.
So how do you boost the strength of the Wi-Fi signal in your home? Begin with the element that has caused problems in the first place – the router. Move it as close as possible to the devices that need a strong Internet connection, be them computers, laptops, smartphones, etc.
Ideally, the routers should be placed at a higher level – on a shelf, for example. Try to keep your router away from the floor and move it closer to the ceiling if it is possible.
What other devices can interfere with the Wi-Fi signal? The router should never be placed close to microwave ovens, cordless phones or baby monitors. These devices use a similar frequency with your router’s 2.4 GHz, so they can cause trouble.
One more thing: don’t place the router close to metallic objects, because the Wi-Fi signal is surely going to suffer. The good news is that there are even apps that you can install on your smartphone, and then easily find out which wireless channel works best for your home, having the least amount of interference in the house.
Don’t allow your router to run using old firmware, especially if there have been years since you’ve updated it. Often times, router firmware updates can bring in significant wireless speed improvements.
Any standard router has antennas; if yours doesn’t have one, it’s because it has been incorporated into its case. Actually, most good routers have two or three antennas. Some of them will even incorporate a D suffix in their names; often times, this means that the existing antennas are detachable, so you can replace them with other high gain antennas.
Most routers are shipped with 5dB antennas, but you can buy 9dB antennas, for example, gaining an extra +4dB, which is a hefty +50%! Of course, you can boost the speed of your Wi-Fi connection by moving the existing antennas around. You would need a RP-SMA to U.FL cable to do the job, though.
It may not be that obvious, but most routers need to be reset from time to time. Practical experience shows that in some cases the Wi-Fi signal regains its strength by simply resetting the device. It is a simple tweak, but it’s one that may work wonders, so give it a try when you feel that the Internet connection has slowed down to a crawl.
Finally, your Wi-Fi connection speed may be influenced by the number of connected devices. Maybe your Internet connection is also being used by some of your neighbors, or by other people who have gotten your password. Make sure to know who is using your network. There are several apps like Fing, which can show all the connected devices.
Armed with this information, you should be able to boost the strength of the Wi-Fi signal in your home without spending a lot of money. Good luck!